Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Stacey, after all what is it in a name besides a name. Obviously I don’t feel comfortable sharing that part of information, therefore just for this, refer to me as Stacey. Let me tell you what I won’t do, I will not bore you with PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis) vs. PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), this isn’t that kind of blog.
What I am going to talk to you about, are my complications with both PEP and PrEP, keep in mind this is purely my own personal life experience that I am willing to share with you all. Let us begin: I have been on PEP before and have referred others as well. If you haven’t guessed it already I have been a community health care worker, therefore I should know better, right? Wrong! I am still human and sleeping around with people whose HIV status I don’t know. It’s not a mistake, it’s careless and irresponsible.
My health should be a priority, but I am not going to beat myself up about my careless behavior, all I can do is take responsibility for my action and do something about it, now here is where the problem lies. Problem #1: Call me irresponsible like Dinah Washington’s medley. I can’t seem to be consistent with taking my PEP meds, my inconsistency has to do with I just have a lot on my mind. I am constantly on the go and with one foot close to becoming homeless, my health and wellness becomes secondary: I have to survive!
Every day is a survival struggle. I mean seriously, how are you supposed to survive with the tiny amount of income from G.A. (General Assistance)? To add the insufficient aid of food stamps: $18 isn’t helpful at all. Moving on, perhaps I am a bit forgetful, but my plate is full with trying to make ends meet.
Problem #2: Nymphomaniac depends on how you define it, am I hypersexual? YES! Is it uncontrollable? You decide. I’m Latina, therefore yes, I have a sex drive, and yes I get hypersexual with the man I am with, notice Man not men. But recently after heartache and going through some depression, I have to find my release and since I’m being truthful after being kicked out of Tinder for being TRANSGENDER, I decided the next option was Craigslist.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t do the one-night stands, I prefer knowing the individual first. But then, do you ever really know your partner’s status? Not to mention the whole CL thingy is very sketchy. But I like to think I know better, and I try to convince myself “luckily I’m very selective” but as we all know, you never really know your partner’s status if you haven’t asked or gotten tested together.
Now problem #3: Indecisive thinking. I’m not gonna, yet I end up doing so… Oh yeah I’m in control, so I tell myself. Then I get hot and bothered, and soon as I know it, I’m like “Oops I did it again,” sorry Britney.
Here’s my situation, I tell myself I am knowledgeable. I’ll get on PrEP, and as a feminist I can sleep with how many men as like, therefore I’m not a slut, I’m just empowering myself. All I need to do to take better care of myself is to get on PrEP, that way I won’t have to worry about HIV. So I tell myself, the only problem is… I am so inconsistent with my medication and even when I think I take them I haven’t.
I procrastinate on taking PrEP, resulting in me getting on PEP for 30 days. Recently, I found out my partner’s status and he is HIV- and STI-free. But as you know, every time I missed a medication dose, I felt it lessened my possibility of being HIV negative.
I have concluded, that since I dislike using condoms and can’t seem to be adherent to my medications, I am going to try to be more abstinent. It’s not like I’m not going to have sex whatsoever, I’m just going to be a lot more aware of my behavior, and get tested with my partners, period.
Information and Resources from HIVE
As PrEP training and implementation roll out across the U.S., we are wondering how the 468,000 women who may benefit from PrEP are finding out about this new HIV prevention method, what they think about it, and what barriers remain. Applause for clinics who are routinely offering PrEP to women, including trans women. And applause for women who are thinking about what PrEP might be to them.
We are on a journey, learning and growing together. Want to share your #WheresMyPrEP story? We can work with you if you prefer to be anonymous. No professional writing skills necessary. We offer a $50 stipend for each blog that we publish. Contact Caroline@HIVEonline.org.
See below for resources on PrEP.
“PrEP can cause side effects like nausea in some people, but these generally subside over time. No serious side effects have been observed, and these side effects aren’t life threatening.” –CDC.gov
“PrEP allows a woman to control her own destiny by not having to rely on her partner’s behavior, his ability to take antiretroviral therapy, to have an undetectable viral load, to get tested. These benefits far outweigh the potential risks [of PrEP] for many women.” -Erika Aaron, CRNP, Drexel College of Medicine